Napier took a deep breath, and after a moment he began to talk in a very low voice:
"I've only just begun to realize what happened to me that night. I suppose that's why June thought it was time to get in touch with someone like you. I was sitting there in the ballroom at one of the tables when the door opened and I saw this bowlegged little man come in. Of course, I recognized him right away. I jumped up and put out my hand and said, 'Well, so you're the spokesman for the baseball crowd, Mr. Casey Stengel!' "
Napier shuddered and his wife took one of his hands in hers. He looked at her gratefully and went on.
"Stengel didn't say anything right away. He sat down and started buttering some rolls that had been left over at that table. I said, 'Do you have any questions about the Napier Plan to Save Baseball, Mr. Stengel?' "
Napier closed his eyes. His wife patted his hand. In a moment he was able to go-on:
"I never got in another word. Stengel began to talk. I thought I was following him pretty well at first. He began by telling me how he studied dentistry here in Kansas City, then quit school to play baseball at Kankakee, Ill. There was something about salary due him and how he took his uniform with him when the team couldn't meet the payroll. Then I sort of lost track and yet I found myself fascinated or hypnotized, I don't know which. I remember something about Stengel managing Brooklyn and the Boston Braves and how he had to sell a ballplayer for $10,000 one time in order to pay the railroad to take the team north from training camp."
He faltered again and Mrs. Napier said, "Take your time. Get a grip on yourself, dear. This will do you worlds of good. Just be calm."
Napier shook his head like a groggy prizefighter, but then he relaxed and went on:
"Then—and I remember this quite clearly—he said something about the Japanese trying to play baseball with short fingers. Then there was quite a lot about fingers. Stengel said there were two kinds of people in the world, people with short fingers and people with long fingers. The short-fingered people are not able to do much with their hands, he said, and so they have to depend more on brain power. But the long-fingered people, he said, could do all kinds of things, play baseball, tend bar, hang wallpaper or become dentists. He said a long-fingered man was foolish trying to do things that required brain power when the short-fingered people could beat him every time."
Napier was getting stronger now. He sat up straight.